Words from Loden

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

In an interview with the Daily Journal on Tuesday, new Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden indicated his familiarity with many of the key issues facing the school district and offered his thoughts on those challenges, such as:

Rebuilding unity and support:
“We have to build relationships. We have to mend fences and be involved in the community. The superintendent is the face of the district…There are so many different events that the superintendent and his wife have to be involved in.”
Those considering leaving the school district:
“I would ask them to give us the opportunity. We have a new administration coming in. Our focus first and foremost will be safe and orderly schools….We need to focus on instruction, have a safe and orderly environment and get off academic watch in a hurry.”

Discipline:
“In the classrooms, our teachers have to be prepared every day and they have to be able to teach. If we have quality lessons every day and the kids are plugged in, 95 percent of the kids are not going to be any problem. When you do have issues, teachers have to be supported. I think we have a solid discipline policy. We have to be consistent.”

Improving academics in Amory:
“We tried to pull everything back to the core foundation of our teachers being able to teach, taking unnecessary paperwork off of your teachers, focusing on best practices and keeping things very simple.”

Closing the achievement gap:
“The best way to narrow the gap is focusing on your K-2 buildings and making sure they have high levels of rigor.”

Being in tune with the community:
“Our first resource is our teachers. Central office has to realize we are to serve our teachers first and foremost. The parents are our customers, the students are our customers. We are not going to repair every problem out there, but we need to be honest and we need to listen.”

Approach to change:
“If I had to describe myself I’d say that I’m a visionary leader. I understand that change is going to be here no matter what but we have to manage change.”

Improving Tupelo’s schools:
“Tupelo led the Southeast in transferring from an agricultural economy to the industrial center it is today. Now we are looking at globalization and you have to have viable schools and we can not afford for our schools to fail. The communities in Mississippi that are successful have quality schools.”